A jury in the first-degree murder trial of Harleme Larry deliberated for eight hours Thursday but could not reach a verdict and rested for the night.
The jurors — nine women and three men — retired at 2 p.m. to decide the fate of 17-year-old Larry in the shooting death of Agustin Hernandez, a father of two.
Authorities say Larry went up to four Hispanic men after midnight on June 10, 2010, and robbed them — netting four dollars. The killer, with a bandana on his face, fired at Hernandez and killed him.
If convicted, Larry — who was 14 at the time of the killing — could face life in prison.
At one point, the jury asked for a "readback" of Larry's testimony, and the court reporter spent about an hour reading the transcript of Larry's time on the stand.
Later, they sent Circuit Judge Pat Siracusa a note that they wanted to continue Friday morning. The jury was not sequestered.
Two days after the killing, Larry was driven to a Sheriff's Office substation by a man named Derrick Wright and Wright's aunt, and confessed, authorities said.
Prosecutors focused on the taped confession in its closing arguments.
"The confession is key," Assistant State Attorney Phil Matthey said. "It is a first-degree murder, and the responsible party is Harleme Larry."
The defense, in its closing Thursday, gave a different version of who did the killing. Wright was the real culprit, and the admittance was false. It came from a 14-year-old desperately seeking a role model. A young man whose mother was murdered when he was 3, and whose father was in jail. A young man put in a special class in school because of behavioral issues, who just wanted a father figure in his life. That love and brotherhood, Larry said from the witness stand, came from a man he trusted — Wright.
Wright, currently in custody for an armed robbery, was called to the stand but didn't answer any of the defense's questions.
Assistant Public Defender Dillon Vizcarra said Wright manipulated Larry's confidence in him.
"He needed someone to trust," Vizcarra said. "Most people that are 14 have loving parents or the advice of a counselor. Harleme Larry had Derrick Wright."
From the witness stand, Larry told attorneys how he never thought Wright would hurt him — he trusted him completely. He said Wright told him to take the blame for the shooting because he'd only get 2 years in jail.
On the stand, Larry spoke slowly and evenly, even when describing how he loved and trusted Wright like a brother. He didn't hold the betrayal against his friend.
"I forgive him for turning his back to me," he said.